Calcium is crucial for healthy child development. An adequate consumption of calcium should begin during the toddler years, if not sooner. This will help their bones develop properly, and stay healthy and strong. Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. In fact, children who consistently have at least two servings of dairy products every day, have much stronger bones when they are teenagers. However, recent studies suggest that children will have much healthier bones if they also get their calcium from other foods such as meat. In other words, it’s much more beneficial to get calcium from both dairy products and other foods. Children who consume dairy and other calcium rich foods have the strongest bones.
Healthy child development doesn’t stop once they become teenagers. It is especially important to have strong bones during the teenage years. That’s because bone growth and development is nearly complete by that stage of life. The level of calcium in the bones will start to dwindle during the young adult years. The gradual loss of bone will continue as a person gets older. Women are especially susceptible to the problems that can occur from rapid bone loss.
Teenagers who don’t get enough calcium are more likely to develop osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis can lead to broken bones and fractures. This is osteoporosis weakens the bones, making them more prone to break during falls.
Milk is the most widely known source of calcium. Milk also contains phosphorus, protein, potassium, and vitamin D, which are also important nutrients. Vitamin D enhances the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Milk and other dairy products certainly can strengthen the bones. But there are other calcium rich foods that promote healthy child development. This includes green leafy vegetables, red or white beans, rice and soy drinks, and almonds.
You don’t have to load your child’s calcium foods into his or her meals. Spread them out into snacks throughout the day. This can be accomplished by having your child snack on foods such as yogurt, cereal, or dried fruit.
Physical activity is also very important to your child’s bone health. Encourage your child to get outside and play. Activities such as running, jumping rope and doing cart wheels help keep the bones strong. The best way to ensure that your child will get enough exercise is to stay physically active with him or her. This will be a fun way of promoting healthy child development while you teach through example.